By a 7-0 margin, the Gastonia City Council voted to move forward with acquiring land for a development that is expected to include a ballpark for the Gastonia Grizzlies (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain league).
During a meeting and public comment period on Tuesday, the city council opted to set aside nearly $4 million to acquire 16 acres of land in downtown Gastonia. That stretch encompasses several blocks, including Franklin Boulevard, West Main Avenue, as well as Hill and Clay streets.
This allows planning to move forward for the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment District, which currently includes concepts for a new ballpark. Slated to cost upwards of $15 million, the ballpark would be financed separately from the rest of the project, a detail that city officials are still ironing out. More from the Gaston Gazette:
The stadium itself would cost another $10 million to $15 million, and would have to be financed separately. It would be owned by the city and likely leased by the Gastonia Grizzlies, a summer collegiate baseball franchise based here. But to be financially solvent, it would also have to be used for a wide variety of other year-round events.
“For us, it has to be more than a ballpark,” City Manager Ed Munn said.
City leaders would pay for the stadium construction using limited obligation bonds, which are paid off solely based on pledged revenue. The city would pay the bonds off over 25 years using the newly acquired property as collateral. Those issues will be voted on in the coming weeks and months.
Since their inception in 2002, the Grizzlies have played at Sims Legion Park, the one-time home of the Gastonia Rangers (Low A; Sally League) and several other bygone minor league teams.
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